Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

Somehow I missed the cupcake craze.  I’m not sure how; maybe because I don’t have small children in the house anymore?  Or perhaps I just haven’t been paying attention.  I admit that I have never purchased a cupcake from a bakery or specialty shop.  But cupcakes are the perfect way to enjoy your own little serving of cake, and they’re simple and quick to make.  There is no fussing about with layers and stacking and frosting as with a big cake.  The variety of flavors for cupcakes is staggering; something for every season and occasion.  Decorative liners and papers are available everywhere.  So what did I choose to satisfy my sudden cupcake craving?  Black and white, of course.  And two very basic flavors:  dark chocolate and the mellow, sweet, vanilla essence of white chocolate.  I spiked my cupcake batter with good whiskey (the frosting too), and sprinkled the frosted cakes with cocoa nibs, for crunch and a little flavor contrast.  It’s a very adult version of an old favorite.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting
(makes 12 cupcakes)
For the cupcakes:
2 tablespoons whisky or bourbon
5 ounces unsalted butter, chopped
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa, sifted
2 eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups superfine (baker’s) sugar
Preheat the oven to 325F.  Place the whisky and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the butter is melted.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa.  Place the eggs and sour cream in a separate bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the bourbon mixture, flour, baking soda and sugar and whisk to combine.  Divide the mixture between 12 x 1/2 cup capacity cupcake tins lined with cupcake papers and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.  Remove from the pan to cool on a wire rack.
For the frosting:
9 ounces white chocolate (use Green and Black’s or Valrhona)
12 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool
3 ounces unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream or creme fraiche
2 tablespoons whisky or bourbon
Cocoa nibs for garnish (optional)
Melt the chocolate gently in a small bowl over simmering water until almost completely melted.  Remove from the heat and stir until fully melted.  Allow to cool until no longer warm to the touch but still fluid.  In a food processor, process the cream cheese, butter, and sour cream until smooth and creamy.  Add the cooled melted white chocolate and the whisky and pulse a few times until incorporated.  This makes a generous amount of frosting (2 3/4 cups).  (If you prefer less frosting make 2/3 of the recipe by using 6 ounces of white chocolate, 8 ounces cream cheese, 2 ounces butter, and 1 tablespoon sour cream).   Swirl the frosting atop the cooled cupcakes with a spatula or a piping bag fitted with a star tip.  Sprinkle with the cocoa nibs, if using.  Leftover cupcakes can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. 
(cupcake recipe minimally adapted from Donna Hay magazine, Issue 68)
(frosting recipe from “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes” by Rose Beranbaum)


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